Birth Centers are increasing in number & Birth Center Births are increasing in popularity with women.
What’s that all about?
A birth center is a birth place designed to feel super comfortable, like a home or spa, as compared to the traditional hospital labor ward. Usually birthing centers don’t operate under strict protocol like hospitals, which means the laboring mama has more options during labor: freedom to move around in whatever way feels best, use of showers or tubs for water birth, can eat/drink as you wish, wear whatever your heart desires, music, non-institutional style décor & furniture, availability to have friends & family around whenever/however you want.
Birth Centers can take many different forms: some are connected to a hospital, some are part of the hospital, some Birth Centers are separate buildings (like a house) located a few miles from a hospital. Birth Centers are staffed by different combinations of labor & birth professionals: Nurse-Midwives, OB/Gyns, Midwives & Doulas.
Each center is unique in how it’s set up- here’s a pic of one…nice eh?
Is a Birth Center Birth Safe?
Yes. For women who have low-risk pregnancies, research shows birth center births are a safe and viable option. Check out this Evidence from a study of 11,814 women in 84 birthing centers- it came from the New England Journal of Medicine.
Why do some couples consider it?
Birth Centers are a great option if you want an unmedicated, “normal” birth, but don’t necessarily want to give birth at home & want to be close to a hospital in case of complications (but not in a hospital). Birth Centers go out of their way to ensure the atmosphere where you labor & birth is comfortable, relaxing & as homey as possible.
Couples may also decide on a birth center birth if they really click or connect with a specific midwife (or midwives) who primarily work in birth centers. Feeling trust with the one provider you’ve found & feeling really excited about them is huge in deciding where you want to give birth.
Things to think about if you want a Birth Center Birth
- Are birth center births an option where you live?
- If so, where are they located? Who staffs them?
- What kind of relationship does the Birth Center have with the hospital?
- Will there be out of pocket costs? If so, how much?
What moms like about Birthing Center Births
• It offers a safe non-hospital option for low-risk couples wanting an unmedicated, normal, birth experience.
• There is total flexibility with how a woman labors- often birth centers offer outdoor spaces where women can walk and stroll while in labor.
• They (usually) offer water births.
• Many mamas say they feel like they’re at a Bed & Breakfast, which helps them feel relaxed and able to focus (which they may not be able to at home for whatever reason)
• No restrictions on eating & drinking or how many people can be there.
• No time constraints. There is freedom to labor for however long it takes to birth baby (assuming no distress for mom or baby).
• Families are free to leave within hours after baby is born.
What moms don’t like about Birthing Center Births
• Insurance might not cover them- may be out of pocket costs with Birth Center Births.
• Because birth center options are usually limited, the location may not be convenient or prevent it from even being an option.
Birth centers could be the sweet spot for you if you’re not sold on a home or hospital birth. You get all the amenities of a super fly Bed & Breakfast, freedom to labor as you wish with no interventions (assuming you don’t want them) and are free to go home hours after the birth (as long as you and baby are doing well).
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